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Elaborate wrought-iron railings stand in front of the former Mansion of the Lopukhin Family. The yellow manor building with white columns is the former Great House of the estate. These days it houses the international museum dedicated to the work and ideas of the artist and savant Nikolai Roerich. Stand with your back for a moment towards the main fascia, and in front of you is the adjacent noble estate of the Vzyaemsky Family. There's an extensive rebuilding programme going on currently. If you walk around the main building of the Lopukhin manor entirely, to the right-hand side, you'll find a second facade. Behind it we find some concealed chambers dating from the C17th.
The Great House of the Lopukhin Family Estate is a two-storeyed mansion house with a six-pilastered colonnade – a shining example of the 'classical' style in architecture. However, the house is a lot older than first appearances might suggest. You'll see why, if you walk around the house to the right, to the inner courtyard. You shouldn't miss this!
The land here was a gift of Tsar Peter the Great to his father-in-law Prince Lopukhin on the occasion of the Tsar's marriage to Lopukhin's daughter Evdokia. By the end of the C17th the royal in-laws had built a handsome two-storey house with a stone columned porch and a ceremonial arch entrance-way. However, by 1718 the family had fallen into disgrace – Evdokia's brother Alexei had been executed for attempting to aid Peter's son to seize the throne, and the estate had been confiscated. At first Peter put the estate at the disposal of a number of Swedish military officers, and then it was awarded to a Dutchman called Jan Tames to be used to build a factory making linen. Business went well.
Thus the first rebuilding of the palace took place in 1718. However the palace was once again returned to the Lopukhin Family ten years later, who had been officially forgiven – and they continued to own the estate for a further 40 years. In 1763 the Estate was awarded to Prince Potemkin, who arranged for his mother to live there. The Estate continued to change hands rapidly during the C19th, finally passing to Countess Protasova.
The owners of the Lopukhin Mansion during the C19th included many of Russia's best-known noble families – the Bogoslovskys, the Bakhmetevs, the Obolonskys, and then at the turn of the C20th, Petrovo-Solovovo, a Lady-In-Waiting to the Empress. But after the 1917 Revolution the premises were grabbed by the VChK (the forerunners of the KGB), and subsequently the building became the Institute of Marx & Engels. After that the mansion was converted into residential housing, through until 1965. In those days the building's appearance was truly pitiful to behold – cracks down the facade, the C18th fencing broken down, the interiors ravaged, - and they even plonked an electrical substation – which was never actually finished, and never went into operation – directly in front of the main facade.
On the eastern facade of the Lopukhin Mansion there's a colonnaded portico, which is decorated with a coat of arms on the triangular tympanum atop the arch. You might very well expect that it's the coat of arms of the Lopukhin Family – but in fact it belongs to a somewhat later owner of the building – the Counts Protosov. The heraldic shield shows rapiers, stars, and a moon. A crenelated crown is shown beneath the double-headed eagle, while the shield itself is clasped by a single-headed eagle and a leopard. The crown on the shield symbolises the rank of Count.
In addition to the Great House of the Lopukhin Mansion, some of the outbuildings are also preserved. You can walk around the courtyard, take a rest on a park bench, and go inside what is now the Roerich Museum. By the entrance we find a sculpture of Nikolai Roerich and his wife Elena. To its left is a further sculpture of his two sons, Yuri and Svyatoslav. The Mansion has housed the Roerich Centre for many years. And in fact the mansion owes its present high level of beautiful restoration to the Centre, which has lovingly cared for it.
Nikolai Roerich was a savant, artist, philosopher and writer whose works covered the whole range of his many interests. He was also an explorer, and led several expeditions into Asia – mainly in search of the philosophical wisdom of the East. It was Roerich who first posited that the Altai Mountains of Siberia can be considered the authentic zone of Shambala. His many paintings of the Altai illustrate his interest in this topic. He wrote widely about Asiatic philosophy, and a circle of enthusiasts for his philosophy and ideas now exists – primarily in the United States. In addition to his Asiatic interests, Roerich was passionately interested in the native religions and beliefs of Slavic people. He painted theatre scenery for the Bolshoi Theatre for performances about these topics, and his work was considered to have been a major influence in the creation of Stravinsky's ballet about native religion in pre-Christian Russia, The Rite Of Spring.
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is a cathedral on the northern bank of the Moskva River, a few blocks southwest of the Kremlin. With an overall height of 103 metres it is the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world.
The current church is the second to stand on this site. The original church, built during the 19th century, took more than 40 years to build. It was destroyed in 1931 during the Communist rule of Joseph Stalin. The demolition was supposed to make way for a colossal Palace of the Soviets that was never built, so the church was reconstructed in the 1990s on the same site.
The Cathedral is located on Volkhonka Street, which starts from Borovitskaya Square. The name of the street appeared at the end of the XVIII century when on the lands of the Volkonskis, a famous noble family was a popular tavern "Volkhonka". The street is one of the most ancient in Moscow. It was famous as a district for the rich.
This district is going to become Moscow Museum District. During the tour you will see and have the opportunity to visit a number of art museums: The Tsvetkovsky Gallery, The Ilya Glazunov Art Gallery, The Lopukhin Family Mansion (aka the Roerich Museum), Gallery of European and American Art of the C19th and C20th, The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, The Museum of Private Collections. While walking here you will understand why Moscow used to be accepted as a beautiful jewelry box. In the lanes you will discover old mansions and fall in love with stories of Russian noble families. Such are The Golitsyn Mansion, The Lopukhin Family Mansion, Obolonsky's Mansion, Sergey Tretyakov's Mansion etc. The Chambers of Averky Kirillov - a unique example of a large urban homestead. Chambers, Church of St. Nicholas and outbuildings along the waterfront are a single architectural complex.
Another bright example of Moscow architecture is Pertsova's Rental Apartment Mansions. The house was an apartment house, located on the corner of Soymonovsky passage and Prechistenskaya embankment, built in 1905-1907 by architects N. Zhukov and B.N. Shnaubert on sketches of the artist S.V. Malyutin, author of Russian nesting dolls. The house includes apartments and artists' studios in the upper attic of the building.